Tag Archives: Bible

What about God killing people in the Old Testament?

18 Mar

English: Anthroplogy - human skull of a boy. T...

There are some questions that trouble non-Christians that really don’t trouble Christians.

  • “Is there such a thing is as truth?” seems so self-evident.
  • “Is the crucifixion cosmic child abuse?” is easy to answer if you’ve read the Bible yourself.
  • “Is Christianity anti-Semitic?” seems ridiculous when you know the church was founded by 12 Jewish guys who followed another Jewish guy who was fulfilled the great Jewish hope.

Although we are happy to answer the questions of our friends and family, these things rarely ever make us struggle.

But there are some questions that do.

One such question is about God killing people in the Old Testament. God seems utterly brutal to do such a thing. How can we reconcile this with the loving God of the New Testament?

Dave Bish has put up an excellent blog post entitled “What about God killing people in the Old Testament?” where he discusses these issues. I would urge you to read the post for yourself. Let me summarise the main arguments here and then add some thoughts of my own.

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We’re About Bible Verses!

7 Jul

bible nerd by JamelahPicture the scene. With his iron logic Piper explains to thousands of students why he thinks Christ and him crucified is the meaning of life. Everyone is convinced. But Piper doesn’t stop there:

“Let me give you some Bible verses, because we’re not about logical deductions, we’re about Bible verses.” (paraphrase)

Examples of Bad Logic

We are often persuaded by incredibly well reasoned arguments whose Biblical evidence is lacking.

When I had first become a Calvinist I was chatting to an Arminian. He hammered home to me the logic of Prevenient Grace and pulled on the heartstrings as he questioned the idea God could send people to hell. His argument had me near enough convinced.

Yet when I looked at my Bible study next morning I realised “This doesn’t work.” It sounded great logic, but it had no scriptural support.

Sinner’s Logic

Human philosophy that isn’t supported by Scripture is fatal, even if it is taught an incredibly gifted and faithful Christian. Our minds by nature are corrupt. We can’t “work out” God. He must reveal himself to us.

Let’s face it we would never “work out” Christ. As Paul says:

For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.

1 Corinthians 1:22-24 (ESV)

Since it was only by the revelation of God we could come to know Jesus, how can we be rooted and built up in him and not continue to depend solely on revelation? Human wisdom has no value.

God’s Agenda

The problem for most of us is the Bible’s main concern isn’t necessarily our concern. We have little intellectual curiosities that God in his Word chooses not to answer.

However, the fact that these issues are not covered in the Word show that they are not important. God’s agenda, in writing the Bible, was to save us through Jesus Christ. Living a Christ-centred life depends on a Bible-saturated faith.

Don’t try to find out your own answers to your own questions. Search the Scripture. Look at what God wants to say to you. And in that way surely you will find eternal life in Christ.

(Picture “Bible Nerd” by jamelah under the Creative Commons Licence)

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Jaded with the Bible?

5 Jun

JapanSMP_0179

Do you struggle to motivate yourself to read the Bible? Do you wonder how to use it in real life? Do you discuss it constantly but fail to obey it?

If so, get your hands on the talks from New Attitude ’08.

New Attitude was set up to help 20s-30s embrace a “Humble Orthodoxy”, holding to biblical truths in a Godly and humble manner. The theme for their 2008 conference was the Bible. These are my favourite talks so far:

  1. Ripping, Burning, Eating: A Right Response to God’s Word by Joshua Harris: Harris presents us with three people’s attitudes towards God’s Word, two good and one bad. He challenges us to repent when we see our sin revealed in Scripture and to fight for love of Scripture even in suffering.
  2. The Authority of Scripture by Mark Dever: Dever spends half his talk talking to non-Christians and half to Christians. He strongly emphasises the need to give the Bible the respect it deserves.
  3. The Troubled Soul: God’s Word and Our Feelings by CJ Mahaney: CJ walks us through the Psalmist’s method of preaching to himself, saying we should all follow suit and exhort our soul to follow God’s Word and not our feelings.
  4. Fighting for Faith in God’s Word by John Piper: The last two points of this message are worth the whole thing. Piper exemplifies how to use the Bible to overcome sinful tendencies in our lives.

Also look at the great resources including interviews, application advice and other sermons.

If your struggling to wield the word well, why not invest some time in listening to these talks and applying them? You won’t regret it.

P.S. Apologies for the infrequency of my posts. I have an important file due in on Tuesday. I’ll be back soon!

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(Picture “JapanSMP_0179” by openg under the Creative Commons Licence)

Chronicles

28 Apr

As I continue telling you ten books I would take to evangelise a desert island we come to Chronicles (1 and 2 were combined originally).

What’s the book about?

Chronicles tells the story of Israel from King Saul through to the release from Exile.

Why did I choose this book?

I view Biblical Theology (following the Bible’s own layout and searching it for truth) as much more important than Systematic Theology (the grouping of verses according to subjects, i.e. God, the Bible etc.).

One of the things that surprises Christians is the amount of narrative in the Bible. Both preachers and their congregations rarely consider it.

However, the story of Israel is key to God and to modern Christians. I chose Chronicles because it contains most of Israel’s history, and the islanders could do with knowing it.

In particular we learn in Chronicles

  1. That God’s people fail
  2. That God’s people deserve punishment
  3. That God can work in spite of people’s failure

I’d encourage you to start taking the narrative parts of the Bible more seriously. Maybe Chronicles, maybe you want to start elsewhere. But God shared Israel’s history for a reason.

If you’re interested in looking at the storyline of the Bible in greater depth have a look at God’s Big Picture by Vaughan Roberts. A really easy read, it will give you a great overview of the Bible.

(Picture by Friends, Friends, Friend’s under the Creative Commons Licence)

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Leviticus

27 Apr

Slaughtered LambNext in my ten books I would take to evangelise a desert island is one of the most controversial on the list: Leviticus.

What’s the book about?

Leviticus is the death blow of “Read the Bible in a Year” programmes. Christians tend to get bogged down in this book and give up. It’s mainly about sacrifices, priests and the way God’s people should live.

Why did I choose this book?

Leviticus foreshadows some big themes in the new Testament:

  1. God is morally pure (or holy) and will destroy anything unholy.
  2. If we’re not holy, a life must be taken in our place.
  3. A priest must mediate between us and God.
  4. God’s people must live in a way that honours him.
  5. God’s people willingly offer sacrifices in thanksgiving for their salvation.

Leviticus is a difficult book, but read in light of the fact that Jesus is our sacrifice and priest it can be a life-changing book.

Thinking about the Old Testament sacrifice system helps me to love Christ more. Thank God I am not separated from Him as I deserve, but through Jesus I am his son!

Leviticus is a hard book and you’ll need a road map. Go to the At the Castle website. At Christmas 2005 Justin Mote gave spoke on Leviticus, and I found it immensely helpful. Have a listen, and I hope this book will be as much a blessing to you as it has been to me.

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Exodus

26 Apr

Moses with stone tabletsContinuing the series of the ten books I would take to evangelise a desert island with we come to our next book, the book of Exodus.

What’s the book about?

At the end of Genesis God’s people are in Egypt. In Exodus, God frees Israel from captivity. After they’ve been set free, the Israelites are given the 10 commandments and the tabernacle, a meeting place with God.

Why did I choose this book?

Like Genesis this book is essential to understanding the Bible and introduces some key ideas:

  1. The name of God (Yahweh).
  2. God saving his people from a sinful world (setting free from slavery).
  3. God’s people being saved by the blood of a sacrifice (passover).
  4. God living with his people (tabernacle)
  5. Certain laws must be kept if God’s people are going to live with him.
  6. God’s people inevitably fail to meet God’s standards but he loves them nevertheless.

These ideas will be essential for the islanders to get. I’m sure they will be a great help to you too. If you haven’t read through Exodus have a try. As with all Old Testament books, they’re more important than you think.

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If I Took Ten Bible Books to Evangelise a Tribe…

23 Apr

At New Word Alive I had the pleasure of sharing a room with Ed Yates. After asking the typical “If you had ten books to take to a desert island” I came up with this corker:

If you were stranded on a desert island and you could take only ten books of the Bible to use to evangelise the savage tribes on that island what would be your ten?

Here is my ten:

  1. Genesis
  2. Exodus
  3. Leviticus
  4. Chronicles (we allowed ourselves the Hebrew two books count as one)
  5. Psalms
  6. Isaiah
  7. Mark
  8. Romans
  9. Hebrews
  10. Revelation

I’m unsure about my denial of Acts, I may have swapped it for Chronicles/Revelation in retrospect, but overall I’m pretty happy with my choice. Over the coming days I’ll try and post my reasons.

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